In Review: Betrothed #1

Romeo and Juliet gets some genre spin with visuals that occasionally stumble.

The covers: Steve Uy, the interior artist and colorist, is responsible for creating Cover A. Tamara has her gun under Kieron’s chin, while Kieron has his right fist glowing with electricity rippling around it near her face. This is the proverbial standoff where no one will win. This is a good introduction to the leads and the weapons they wield. The coloring does a neat job at using Kieron’s fist to be the light source. The top of the image, however, doesn’t really stand out and is a photo insertion of smoke. I’m not a fan of photos being placed in comic art because they are obviously photos. Sadly, that’s the case here. It’s not a deal killer, but it is noticeable. Juan Doe is the artist on the B cover. This features a blast of white energy slashing the image vertically down the middle. On the left is Kieron with his eyes closed holding his left fist up as orange flame surrounds it. On the right, upside down, like a playing card image of the left, is Tamara. She has her eyes open and is holding a futuristic pistol that has smoke writhing out of its barrel. Cool layout and I love the colors. This was the cover I purchased. Overall grades: A B- and B A-

The story: The issue begins with Kieron narrating his story, stating that “this love story isn’t gonna be Romeo and Juliet.” That sums up this issue to a tee. Sean Lewis’s story is a romance, but with magical and technological twists. As Kieron begins his tale he’s taking a fist to the left side of his face, with a tooth flying free of his mouth. He’s just been hammered by Tamara, an A student/cheerleader/senior in high school. What did he do to set her off? Tap her on the shoulder as he was walking down the hall of this new high school he’s transferred to. Pulled away from the beaten boy by a friend, as she’s lectured for her behavior on the new kid, Tamara thinks, ‘What do I say, it was like being touched by electric wire? Like it had that intensity? Like I felt it run through my body till I lashed out? But even stranger, afterwards…afterwards…I didn’t want to hit him. I wanted something else.’ Kieron reappears and walks over to Tamara and then something surprising happens. This was an okay introduction to the leads, but after this Page 7 spins this partnering into a wild direction. A fantasy and sci-fi spin backstory is told. It’s short, but I had to read it twice, because I couldn’t follow it the first time. The conflicting tribes are then shown and about to fight, but something on Earth has them stand down. An unnamed character gives something to a larger character and the proceedings return to Earth, with the young teens finding themselves next to one another. It seems that on their shared journey they learn their pasts, but whether they fully understand what they’ve learned is left for next issue. Speaking of next issue, the pair find themselves suddenly far from home and in quite the pickle. The Romeo and Juliet similarity was hammered too often, with the first page being enough for the reader. Page 7 was a big change, but once past it I was reading pages fine. Where this is going, I couldn’t say. I hope it differs more from the Shakespearean chestnut. Overall grade: B-

The art and colors: Steve Uy is the visual artist of this book and I’m running hot and cold on his work. The first six pages are set in a high school’s halls and they look good. The opening splash/introduction to Kieron is great, as is Tamara’s first image on the following page. Those two images are not how one images a love story to begin. The yellows and are really strong on these pages, giving the halls an incredibly bright tone, which is unlike any high school I’ve ever seen. If anything, the colors make this story seem aged, which might be the attempt to continue to beat on the Romeo and Juliet angle. Page 7 was incredibly visually confusing, and that’s not good since it’s a sizable chunk of this series. Three panels are set atop a larger image. The first two panels contain images too distant from the reader, leaving one wondering what it is exactly that’s being seen. Using photos in that second panel doesn’t help. The large image is so dark I didn’t know what I was looking at initially. Thankfully, the turn of a page has strong character work and better coloring, so any reader can understand what’s being seen. Magic is employed on these pages and the technique used has it looking like a bad blue screen effect. Not helping are the walls of the cave, looking the same. I’m liking Uy’s character work, but not liking the computer effects, which look like computer effects and take me out of the story. The coloring is also too dark at times, obscuring artwork when there’s no need to, such as with the pair’s journey that ends the issue. Cheating is allowed in comic books: realism does not have to rule. The visuals may be the deal killer for me on future issues. Overall grade: C-

The letters: Simon Bowland’s work on this book consists of narration, dialogue, yells, and the tease for next issue. I like his use of lower case letters to differentiate the narration from the dialogue, with colors of their boxes to show the reader who is thinking the specific thoughts. There are a few minor changes among the yells, showing how stressful the utterances are. There are no sounds to speak of, most likely because any fighting is quickly halted. However, given the ending of this issue there look to be several next month. Overall grade: A-

The final line: Romeo and Juliet gets some genre spin with visuals that occasionally stumble. I like the premise, but the visuals are too mixed to enjoy. I’ll eyeball the next issue and if the art looks improved, I’ll pick it up. If it looks the same, this will be my only issue. Overall grade: C+

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Betrothed-1/digital-comic/622882

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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